Lifestyle Factors and Continence Status: Comparison of Self-Report Data from a Postal Survey in England

Brenda Roe, H Doll

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

    25 Citations (Scopus)


    Objective: To compare health and lifestyle factors of people with and without urinary incontinence (UI). Design: A postal survey was undertaken that represents the first of a 3-stage project designed to evaluate the health interventions of primary health care teams and continence advisory services on patient outcomes related to UI. Setting and Subjects: Two random samples of adult populations (N = 12,529) were included, generated from the family physician patient registers within 2 health authorities in England. Instruments: Data were collected using a structured questionnaire that queried demography, perceived health status, activities of daily living, self-care, and use of local health and social services. Information was also collected on past and present continence status. Methods: Structured questionnaires and a cover letter were mailed to the target population. Two reminders were sent to nonresponders to maximize the response rate. Main Outcome Measures: The main measures relate to factors associated with UI: mobility, sleep, childbirth, smoking, diet, body mass index, and accommodation. Results: Significantly more women than men had UI (P < .0001). Respondents with UI were older than those who were continent (P< .0001). Women with UI were significantly more likely to have a greater number of pregnancies (P< .0001), were more likely to have given birth to a baby weighing more than 9 Ib (P< .01), and to have had more than 4 children (P = .01) compared with women who were continent. People with UI were less likely to be single and more likely to be widowed than those who were continent (P< .0001). People who lived alone and who had UI were also significantly less likely to have a relative or friend that they could depend on for help than those who were continent (P < .001). UI was also found to be significantly associated with impaired mobility (P< .0001) and sleeping difficulties (P< .0001). No meaningful differences were found between diet and UI, although significantly more people with UI had higher mean body mass index, were obese, or reported that they felt too heavy for their height when compared with people who were continent (P< .0001). No association was found in the present study with smoking or ethnicity and UI. Conclusions: Key health and lifestyle factors associated with UI included age, gender, childbirth, mobility, sleep patterns, obesity, living alone, and access to help. These factors should be assessed when planning and implementing health care for persons with UI. Attention to these associated factors may prove useful in identifying new cases or people at risk of developing UI when screening people as part of routine health checks. This, in turn, could assist with targeting effective and efficient health care but may also contribute to prevention for some people.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)312-319
    JournalJournal of Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nursing
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - 1999


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